Duke J. Durfee, 88, of Bonita Springs, FL, and Grand Rapids, MN passed away earlier this month on March 9, 2012, in Naples, FL.
Duke was born February 14, 1924, to Duke S. and Grace (Blazey) Durfee in Kane County, Illinois. He grew up in Wheaton, IL, and entered Purdue University in the fall of 1942 on a football scholarship. Enlisting in the US Navy in January 1943, he served in the North Atlantic and Pacific theaters on the Destroyer USS Eberle. He returned to Purdue in 1946. From 1949 to 1956, he managed family farms in DuPage County, IL. Joining Caterpillar Tractor Company in 1956, Duke served as Field Engineer in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 1957-1961, and as East African District Representative in Nairobi, Kenya. In 1963, he established one of the earliest Deere & Co. Construction Equipment dealerships in North Mankato, MN. Active in the industry, he served as President of Deere’s Industrial Dealer Association, Minnesota Land Improvement Contractors and a founding member of the Board of Directiors of the Construction Management course at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Duke had a lifelong love of flying. In retirement he volunteered with Angel Flight of South Florida, which arranges free air transport for charitable needs.
Duke is survived by his wife of 62 years, Shirley Harris Durfee, daughter Barbara Phillips of Plano, TX, sons Duke H. Durfee of Bloomfield, CA, Brian Durfee of Eau Claire, WI and his sister Jane Skinner of Princeton, IL.
No funeral service is being planned.
Dulas Excavating Inc. sends their condolances to the Durfee family. Duke was a true friend of the industry and will always be remembered.